Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Book Review In A Forest

Have you ever wondered– If a book review was tacked up in a forest, and no one was around, would it make a noise?

The second best promotional tool an author has (I'll get to the best in a minute) is a good book review. As a first tier author this is an easy one, you pretty much have your choice of reviewers. But lets move a little deeper into the forest to the self-published or first-time authors published by small independent presses.

As you toil away at your first novel you begin to fantasize about your place on the New York Times Best Sellers list. You know if you could just get your book in front of the right reviewer it would be your ticket to the big time. They're out there, you can hear them typing away. They're just beyond the clearing. So you set your compass and begin to blaze a trail, fighting your way through the underbrush of obscurity. Easy, right? Not so fast. Before I get to the book reviewers, let me say a few cautionary words about the publishing forest.

As with any forest there are dangers. The sign reads Authors Beware! There are thickets of "Get Published Fast" schemes waiting in the shadows to ensnare unsuspecting writers. Cottages where evil "Self-Proclaimed Editors" lurk, tempting you with fame for the gold in your pockets. Fire-breathing "Critique Groups," beating down your prose with poisoned pens. And don't even get me started on the flying monkeys. But you're strong and stay on course, making it through the worst of it. The day finally arrives when your idea has become a published book. Now, what about those book reviews?

There are a multitude of sites/blogs willing to review books of every fiction genre. What you need to consider is– What is their visibility and what are you getting in return? By this I mean, if a blog touting itself as a book review site has a hundred or so book reviews but only 8 followers, what have you really gained by submitting your book for review? Were comments left by someone other than friends or family members? Were comments left at all?

You may regard this as cynical but there is a certain reality to it. I'm not saying ignore these sites/blogs; like anything else they should have a place in your marketing plan as part of a blog tour. What I caution is to keep it all in perspective. And, in case you missed it, I'll say it again, the important thing here is your marketing plan. This is an authors best tool. Without a solid marketing plan you can expend a great deal of energy for very little return. Getting reviewed should be a priority, but getting reviewed by a top reviewer should be a top priority. Set your sights high and go for it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It won't be easy, and it won't happen overnight, but the greater the effort the greater the prize.

In this day and age of spider bots trolling the web, the more links you have out there the greater your exposure. So, in relation to our forest, continue to tack up small reviews as you make your way to the clearing, but be selective. Each one increases the chances of your book being stumbled on by intrepid readers passing by, but each one requires an effort on your part. Make that effort count.